Brewed in a basement or distilled in a factory, cultivated in a vineyard or harvested hydroponically, plucked from a pile of cow dung or neatly manufactured into an FDA-approved pill, drugs come in infinite forms.

Some make it easy to befriend a stranger. Some encourage new perspectives, illuminating art, music, literature. Some make the dull or outright painful reality of life easier to bear. Some make you do or say stupid things. Some will kill you. And some have been known to be the gateway to deeply spiritual, life-changing experiences.

It’s a harsh fact that drugs demand that you make a choice—to accept them or not—and in that choice is an exchange. You may trade clearheadedness for comfort. Brain cells for ecstasy. Cocky self-assurance for doubt, introspection, empathy. Cold hard cash for a small slice of heaven. This is one reason the war on drugs has been and will always be a failure: because it’s really a war on personal freedom.

And so, with all due respect to those who choose sobriety, today I am thankful for drugs.